Honey Bee Producer Guide to the National Bee Farm-level Biosecurity Standard
Appendix E: Honey Bee Biosecurity: Self-Evaluation Checklist

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This checklist is designed to assist beekeepers in evaluating their biosecurity programs. Though it does not list all the components or measures detailed in the Producer Guide, it does provide a general overview of the main recommendations in the sections. If, while using this evaluation tool, questions arise or specifics are required, please refer to the Producer Guide. Some items on this checklist may not apply to all honey beekeeping operations.

Section 1: Bee Health Management Checklist

1.1 Bee Sources

  • bees are purchased / introduced from local, certified, and recognized suppliers
  • when purchasing / introducing bees, all federal and provincial acts and regulations are followed and recorded
  • introductions are inspected and assessed for the presence of pests – appropriate actions are taken
  • introductions are placed in new or disinfected hives, and handled with clean and disinfected equipment
  • treatments comply with federal and provincial acts and regulations, and product labels are followed
  • bee health is monitored and recorded after introduction

1.2 Prevention: Minimizing Susceptibility to Pests

  • weather and environmental conditions, both in the field and in the hive, are monitored and measures are taken to promote bee health
  • bees have access to quality water and feed supplies.
  • measures are taken to avoid disturbances when bees are handled, transported, placed, and stored
  • direct and indirect exposure to pesticides is minimized through situational awareness and by monitoring bee health
  • cultural control techniques and monitoring of pests are used to maintain strong colonies
  • preventative chemical treatments are limited and used according to provincial recommendations

1.3 Prevention: Minimizing Exposure

  • hive equipment is designed, used, and maintained to reduce exposure to pests
  • apiaries are placed, oriented, and monitored to reduce exposure to pests
  • management techniques are used to prevent robbing, drifting, and swarming

Preventative measures and caution are used to reduce exposure to pests during

  • transportation
  • splitting
  • uniting or equalizing colonies
  • collecting supers
  • extracting

1.4 Diagnosis and Monitoring

A monitoring program is in place and considers

  • current knowledge of area risks
  • coordination of monitoring with treatment periods
  • bee lifecycles
  • pest lifecycles
  • seasonal operation activities
  • record keeping and tracking
  • early recognition of concerns
  • sampling/collection
  • handling of pests
  • use of laboratory to confirm diagnosis of disease and pests
  • treatment efficacy
  • training

1.5 Standard Response Plan

  • provincial treatment recommendations are obtained and followed
  • the recommended Canadian Integrated Pest Management Program for honey bees is followed

Chemical treatments are used, together with cultural management methods:

  • chemical resistance is avoided
  • treatments are rotated (if applicable)
  • chemical interactions and buildup are avoided
  • treatment thresholds are monitored and followed, if applicable
  • provincial apiarists or bee specialists are consulted for test result interpretation
  • label directions are followed
  • applications are thorough and consistent
  • applications are timed to seasons and life stages
  • bee health is monitored after treatment

Non-chemical (cultural) techniques for managing equipment with live bees are incorporated:

  • strong colonies are maintained
  • infected or infested colonies are segregated
  • healthy bees are introduced to uncontaminated equipment
  • queen excluders are used
  • comb interchange between colonies is minimized
  • at least 20% of brood frames are replaced each year
  • colonies are requeened every 2 years with stock with desirable traits
  • screened bottom boards are used
  • drone brood trapping is practiced to manage Varroa mites
  • bottom boards are scraped at least annually

1.6 Elevated Response Plan

A communications/notification plan is in place for

  • staff
  • bee authorities (provincial apiarist, inspectors)
  • associations
  • other
  • risk-based communication triggers are in place

Bee management protocols are in place:

  • colony and equipment movement, sales, and introductions are suspended
  • affected colonies are segregated
  • access to affected colonies is restricted
  • personal and equipment biosecurity measures are followed
  • quarantine measures are followed
  • visitor protocols are followed, and signage is posted

Section 2: Operations Management

2.1 Obtaining Production Inputs

  • clean water, carbohydrates, protein feed, and treatments are provided to the bees as required.
  • sucrose or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) suitable for bees are used
  • alternate water source(s) are provided
  • pollen and protein supplements are irradiated
  • treatment products are registered, and label instructions are followed

2.2 Handling and Disposal of Production Inputs

  • honey spills are cleaned up as soon as possible
  • feeders and containers are new or disinfected
  • closed feeders are used
  • feeders, feed, and water containers are sealable and constructed of material that is easily cleaned and disinfected
  • pail feeders are labelled for feed and/or treatments
  • feed is stored away from bees and processing
  • feed and water that has been in contact with infected or infested bees is sealed and disposed of
  • dead bees are routinely removed from water sources and feeders
  • chemical treatments are stored according to label instructions
  • supply inventory is used first in/first out
  • expired and excess products are disposed of according to label instructions
  • reuse of pesticide strips is avoided

2.3 Obtaining Bee Equipment

Acquired used equipment

  • is avoided if it has a history of disease
  • is purchased from local, trusted, and certified suppliers that are ideally with a pest control program; unfamiliar suppliers are investigated before buying used equipment
  • is accompanied with a health/inspection certificate
  • is isolated and monitored for one year if used hive equipment includes live bees
  • with an unknown health status is isolated and disinfected – irradiation, heat treatment, hot paraffin wax, or chemical (bleach)

Imported used bee equipment:

  • current federal and provincial import and transport regulations are followed
  • provincial registration requirements are followed
  • records are kept and maintained
  • permits are acquired
  • if ordered, methods and times for quarantine, treatments, and disposal are followed

Selection or construction of new hive equipment:

  • hive bodies are clean with tight joints and tight-fitting parts
  • hive boxes can be tightly stacked but do not bind
  • galvanized metal parts and nails are used
  • equipment is constructed with clean smooth wood cuts
  • pressure-treated wood and toxic materials are avoided
  • new or irradiated plastic foundations are used

2.4 Management and Maintenance of Bee Equipment, Dead Bees, and Bee Products

  • an equipment identification system is used – numbering, colour, maps, dates, or Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • provincial regulations concerning identification of hives and apiaries may apply
  • routine inspections of structures and for the presence of pests are performed
  • suspect colonies are visited last

Equipment exchange and replacement is

  • segregated
  • minimized
  • routine
  • follows cultural management practices and incorporates biosecurity methods
  • apiaries and equipment are maintained and repaired as required
  • equipment is disinfected before reintroducing bees

When storing equipment

  • supers are dried before storing
  • pollen and propolis are removed from stored comb
  • supers are wrapped
  • sufficient space and orientation to ducts is provided to promote air circulation

Dead bees, bee products, and contaminated equipment are properly

  • handled
  • stored
  • disposed of

Honey extraction is avoided from

  • contaminated equipment
  • brood combs
  • infected colonies (unless extracted last – followed by disinfection of used equipment)

2.5 Personal Sanitation

  • hands are washed after handling contaminated equipment or bee products
  • hands are washed between apiaries
  • disposable or reusable gloves are carried and worn
  • reusable gloves are washed and disinfected after use or between apiaries
  • gloves are changed routinely
  • contaminated gloves are disposed of carefully
  • hands are washed before putting on gloves
  • clothing is routinely washed with a bleach solution and thoroughly dried
  • extra clean and disinfected hive tools are carried
  • tools are disinfected after handling diseased or infested equipment or bee products
  • tools are cleaned and disinfected when moving between apiaries
  • visible debris is removed from tools before disinfecting
  • used personal gear and tools are disposed of in the landfill or by burning

2.6 Design of Facilities

  • loading areas are paved
  • roadways and pathways are graded and drained
  • spring loaded self-closing doors are used
  • smooth structural materials that are impervious to rust, corrosion, and rot are used
  • surfaces are easily cleaned
  • exteriors are maintained to deter pests
  • air circulation is promoted
  • concrete floors are sealed
  • facilities are bee tight and, ideally, insect and rodent proof
  • one-way exit methods are used that allow bees to escape
  • appropriate temperature- and humidity-controlled storage is provided
  • temperature and humidity are monitored
  • adequate ventilation and air circulation is provided in wintering facilities to remove heat, moisture, and carbon dioxide
  • lighting is minimized in facilities where bees are stored

Segregated storage areas are provided for

  • receiving bees
  • infected, infested, or suspect hives
  • hives from different apiaries (wintering facilities) or destined for pollinating crops in pest-free areas
  • toxic products
  • disinfection
  • storage and repairs of hive equipment

2.7 Maintenance of Premises, Buildings, Vehicles, and Other Equipment

  • new apiary sites are inspected and assessed for risks before placing bees
  • transportation and operational equipment and surfaces are clean of debris and honey spills
  • honey spills are cleaned daily
  • the premises, buildings, vehicles, and equipment are routinely inspected for risks
  • areas used for cleaning and disinfection are located away from apiaries and other production facilities
  • drainage water is contained or controlled to minimize biosecurity risks

2.8 Control of Weeds and Nuisance Pests

Monitoring includes

  • weeds
  • nuisance pests
  • disturbances to hives and surrounding area
  • dead bees
  • nests
  • weakened colonies

Management:

  • facilities and apiaries are kept free of attractive environments for pests
  • facilities and apiaries are kept free of presence of dogs or cats
  • bees are moved to a new location, or measures are taken if pests are discovered
  • facilities and hives are maintained in good condition – pest proofing
  • areas around apiaries and hives are mowed
  • selected sites are away from wildlife habitats
  • fencing is used
  • predators are trapped
  • Poison (permitted) is used appropriately for pests requiring this treatment
  • colonies are raised off the ground
  • wasps are monitored and nests removed
  • hives are located in areas where they cannot be easily vandalized or subject to theft
  • if possible, surveillance cameras are used

2.9 Training and Education

A training/education program includes

  • joining local associations
  • accessing government resources and professionals
  • developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for operational processes

A training plan includes knowledge of

  • biosecurity principles, risks, and importance
  • bee health
  • monitoring
  • record keeping
  • recommended management practices
  • treatment
  • sanitation processes
  • acts and regulations

The training plan includes

  • training schedules, key training times, and updates
  • in-house training
  • on-the-job training
  • self study
  • formal qualification
  • translation if applicable
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